iau2210 — Press Release

Group photo of participants in the XXXI IAU General Assembly
11 August 2022
IAU XXXI General Assembly Draws to a Close
First General Assembly to be held in Korea brings about 1900 astronomers together

The XXXI General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) ends today in Busan, Korea. Having been postponed by one year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the meeting took place as the first hybrid General Assembly, with around 1200 in-person participants and around 700 attending online. The conference included seven symposia, 10 multi-session Focus Meetings, as well as many more meetings of IAU Divisions, Commissions and Working Groups.

The XXXI IAU General Assembly in Busan, Korea, ends today, Thursday 11 August 2022, after two busy weeks packed with scientific talks and meetings. Despite facing ongoing challenges due to COVID-19, the conference was a great success, thanks to the dedication of the Local Organising Committee. As well as being the first IAU General Assembly to be held in Korea, this meeting was also the first to have a hybrid format, with around 1200 participants attending in person and around 700 joining online.

Conference attendees enjoyed a wide range of presentations, not only on technical subjects within subdisciplines of astronomy, but also on bigger-picture development, advancement and collaboration within astronomy. There were seven symposia, 10 Focus Meetings and many more meetings organised by the IAU Offices as well as the Divisions, and Executive Committee Working Groups.

The programme also featured a number of invited discourses and public lectures. Topics included the early science being done with the James Webb Space Telescope; the state of the Universe according to our current understanding; the imaging of supermassive black holes with the Event Horizon Telescope; and how the seemingly contradictory measurements of the Hubble constant might be resolved.

Besides the scientific programme, participants had the opportunity to join a star party at BEXCO, the huge conference venue in Busan, and several tours of the local area around the region. Korean culture was weaved into the conference itself, with the opening ceremony featuring a performance of traditional Korean dance.

Highlights of all aspects of the programme, from scientific meetings to public lectures and sightseeing opportunities were collected in the e-Newspaper, published every day of the conference.

The General Assembly also saw the launch of the NameExoWorlds 2022 Competition to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the IAU Office of Astronomy for Outreach (OAO). This contest invites everyone around the world to propose names for 20 exoplanets and their host stars, which will be among the first targets of the James Webb Space Telescope.

Another major topic of discussion at the meeting was the new Center for the Protection of the Dark and Quiet Sky from Satellite Constellation Interference (CPS), which was established in April this year. This new centre aims to mitigate against the interference of new satellite constellations in optical and radio astronomy, and contributors had new results of observations to share during the conference.

Since this General Assembly was postponed by one year, the four IAU Officers of the current triennium have already taken up their roles. However, the officers from both this triennium and the previous one took part in the opening ceremony.

The four IAU Officers in the current triennium are:

  1. President: Debra Meloy Elmegreen
  2. General Secretary: José Miguel Rodriguez Espinosa
  3. President Elect: Willy Benz
  4. Assistant General Secretary: Diana Mary Worrall

Unusually for a General Assembly, no Business Meetings were held and no Resolutions were presented to be voted on, as this was all done virtually in 2021. There was an online vote during the meeting, in which National Members voted to admit Georgia as a new National Member.

Although new Individual and Junior Members are normally announced at the General Assembly, this year they were announced in June, bringing the number of Junior Members to over 1000 for the first time and the total to around 12,500 members.

The closing ceremony included the flag handover to Cape Town, South Africa, where the XXXII IAU General Assembly will be hosted. It will take place in 2024 after a gap of just two years instead of three, owing to the postponement of the XXXI General Assembly. The location of the XXXIII General Assembly in Rome, Italy was also announced.

Eight issues of the General Assembly newspaper were published during the meeting, and are available to read in full online. Press releases can be found in the press releases archive. Images from the meeting can be viewed in the online gallery. More information about the XXXI IAU General Assembly is available on the website.

More information

The IAU is the international astronomical organisation that brings together more than 12 000 active professional astronomers from more than 100 countries worldwide. Its mission is to promote and safeguard astronomy in all its aspects, including research, communication, education and development, through international cooperation. The IAU also serves as the internationally recognised authority for assigning designations to celestial bodies and the surface features on them. Founded in 1919, the IAU is the world's largest professional body for astronomers.



Lars Lindberg Christensen
IAU Director of Communications
Tel: +1 520 461 0433
Cell: +49 173 38 72 621
Email: lars.christensen@noirlab.edu


Group photo of participants in the XXXI IAU General Assembly